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COWBOYS STADIUM WELCOMES COLLEGE BASKETBALL
December 14, 2009

SCS.comI’m not going to lie to you.

It’s not a great week of college basketball ahead. In fact, if you decided to sleep from now until Saturday morning, you’d probably miss nothing in the hoops world. Luckily, the weekend will bring us at least a little excitement, including a top-10 showdown at The House that Jerry Built.

OPENING THOUGHTS


Thought 1: William and Mary an emerging contender

As many as five teams looked like Colonial Athletic Association favorites entering the 2009-2010 campaign. Add William and Mary to the list. Old Dominion returned all five starters from a 25 win team, and VCU, Hofstra, Northeastern and George Mason were all picked to challenge the Monarchs. William and Mary wasn’t picked anywhere near those teams, which makes the Tribe’s 6-2 start, including a win at Wake Forest and a CAA-opening 75-74 victory over VCU, even more surprising. I’m not going to pretend to know a whole lot about William and Mary, but its only two losses came at Connecticut and at Ivy League front-runner Harvard (by two points). The Tribe won 10 games last year but is off to its best start in almost two decades here in 2009. And it doesn’t look like this team is going away any time soon.

Thought 2: UCLA done?

I initially shrugged off UCLA’s poor performance at the Anaheim Classic. “It’s UCLA,” I said. “They’ll figure something out.” After another beat-down at the hands of Mississippi State, perhaps the Bruins won’t figure something out. It’s apparent that this team simply doesn’t have much talent, which is unbelievable considering the type of high school prospects Ben Howland has access too. Right now, UCLA is led by a cast of role players. Michael Roll, for example, has never averaged more than 20 minutes per game in any of his first three seasons but somehow leads the team in scoring this year. Malcolm Lee hasn’t panned out. Drew Gordon just decided to transfer. And Nikola Dragovic has battled legal issues. It’s shameful what’s occurring at UCLA right now, and it’s frankly inexplicable. Even in a poor Pac-10 conference, the Bruins don’t even look like an upper-half team in that conference.

Thought 3: Hey Deon, don’t miss it!

That’s all that was said: “Hey Deon, don’t miss it!” Roy Williams threw a hissy fit over those five harmless words, uttered by a Presbyterian fan sitting in the Carolina section as Deon Thompson shot a free throw. It was an embarrassing overreaction by Williams, who publicly berated the fan as his team was winning by 40 points. I wish someone from the mainstream media would call him out for these antics. I’m waiting, ESPN. “Don’t miss it.” You kidding me? Let’s just hope Roy Williams never enters the Maryland student section.

WEEKLY PREVIEW

GAME OF THE WEEK

North Carolina at Texas
Saturday 1 p.m.

Texas has ascended to the second spot in the national polls but hasn’t faced a difficult schedule yet. North Carolina, on the other hand, has faced murderer’s row so far, with games against Ohio State, Syracuse, Michigan State and Kentucky. The Longhorns’ most pressing question mark—point guard play—will be partly answered during Saturday’s game. Florida transfer Jai Lucas won’t suit up until the second semester, so there is help on the way if J’Covan Brown and Dougus Balbay can’t man the point. Another interesting note: the game will be played at Cowboys Stadium, a.ka. The House that Jerry Built. That’s just an extra reason to tune in to what should be a fabulous match-up.

Prediction: Texas 76, North Carolina 73

GAMES TO KEEP AN EYE ON

Cincinnati at UAB
Wednesday 6 p.m.

Even with a revamped roster, UAB has raced out to an 8-1 start. Will it continue against a Cincy team out for blood after a double-overtime loss to bitter rival Xavier?

Prediction: Cincinnati 67, UAB 65

Michigan at Kansas
Saturday 11 a.m.

Michigan is a good team. That was proven last year, as these same players reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Still, no matter how you spin it, a 5-4 start is discouraging.

Prediction: Kansas 87, Michigan 69

Xavier at Butler
Saturday 1 p.m.

Butler gained an enormous resume win against Evan Turner-less Ohio State on Saturday. If it can knock off Xavier this weekend, the Bulldogs will have at least salvaged a semi-productive non-conference slate.

Prediction: Butler 67, Xavier 66

Gonzaga at Duke
Saturday 3 p.m.

Odd score of the weekend: Gonzaga 101, Davidson 93. Yep, these Zags can score.

Prediction: Duke 80, Gonzaga 72

Illinois State at Utah
Saturday 1 p.m.

The Mountain West Conference has been one of the early winners in non-conference play. Utah has helped the cause with wins against Illinois and Michigan, though losses to Seattle, Idaho and Weber State are perplexing.

Prediction: Illinois State 76, Utah 75

Richmond at Florida
Saturday 1 p.m.

It’s a tough week for Richmond, who will travel to South Carolina on Wednesday before a trip to Florida this weekend.

Prediction: Florida 83, Richmond 72

Temple at Seton Hall
Saturday 6 p.m.

Former Missouri guard Keon Lawrence will make his season debut against a Temple team coming off a monumental win over Villanova yesterday. Lawrence had been suspended for a late-night car crash in November.

Prediction: Seton Hall 79, Temple 66

Old Dominion at Georgetown
Saturday 6 p.m.

Georgetown is undefeated and has defeated two straight top-25 teams, but it will need to be careful not to slip-up against CAA favorite Old Dominion.

Prediction: Georgetown 65, Old Dominion 55

Texas Tech at Wichita State
Saturday 7:05 p.m.

For as surprising as Texas Tech has been early on, Wichita State’s 9-1 start is just as “shocking.” Aren’t I clever? These “Shockers” could be scary good under Greg Marshall, who finally has this program rolling.

Prediction: Wichita State 77, Texas Tech 76

Kansas State at Alabama
Saturday 7:30 p.m.

Don’t look now, but Anthony Grant has Alabama playing inspired in his first year on the job.

Prediction: Kansas State 78, Alabama 70

Portland at Washington
Saturday 9 p.m.

What’s happened to the darling of college basketball? I guess reality has hit Portland. The Pilots dropped games to Portland State and Idaho after entering the national polls.

Prediction: Washington 80, Portland 70

Florida State at Georgia Tech
Sunday 4:30 p.m.

Another random ACC game in December. Why?

Prediction: Georgia Tech 82, Florida State 72

Last week’s prediction record: 8-6
Overall prediction record: 27-20

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